Gorillas in the Mist

"It's none of your fuckin' business, asshole. What? You just walk up to strangers and start tellin' them what to do? Is that it?"

The setting: Morrison's tiny Sinclair station early Sunday afternoon, by one of the four gas pumps. The speaker: a young tough with light stubble on his cheeks and hate in his eyes, filling up his black Chevy Yukon. The subject of his verbal attack: an older, clean-cut gentleman driving a red Suzuki.

As the young tough issued his choice words, he spat on the ground and pumped his pecs at Suzuki man as if challenging him to throw down on the snow-covered ground -- a kind of one-sided chest bump, and a display of male posturing that I haven't seen since, well, ever.

I wondered if Suzuki man had said something to the young tough about driving a gas-guzzling car in these times of global warming. But no, it turned out the older gentleman was simply pointing out that it can be hazardous to fill up your vehicle with the engine still running. Exhaust steaming from the tailpipe of the Yukon and the sound of the petrol meter ticking confirmed that the "this-is-our-country" Chevy helmman was defying the signs on the pumps.

"You worried I'm gonna blow us all up, dumbass? Don't you know how a fuckin' motor works?" the youngster jeered. "My dad used to fill up with the engine running, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone." The target of these statements wisely refrained from pointing out that his dad must have had a death wish. In fact, to his overall credit, Suzuki man ignored all threats from the punk-ass kid, not batting an eye at his vulgarities.

As the young tough replaced his gas cap, he flung a final menacing insult and then tore away from the gas station.

The holidays are officially over when this is what replaces peace on Earth and goodwill toward men; cabin fever is turning otherwise normal young citizens into angry silverback gorillas. I hope the sun comes out soon and stays out, melting the snow and giving gorillas the light and warmth they need to turn back into normal human beings. -- Amber Taufen

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun